There have been a few times in my life where I felt like the object of persecution. Certainly not the type of persecution in the first reading or especially in the parable told in today’s gospel, but a persecution nonetheless. It can be hard to be mocked, or ridiculed or worse for doing the right thing. To be able to do the right thing in the face of harm is courage. And it is courage we observe in those from the gospel seeking out a rightful share of grapes, or in Tobit burying the dead.
I too have found times where I have been alone in doing the good. But most of the time I do not display such courage. Too often it is easier not to make trouble, and to try to keep the peace. At other times it is easier to speak what I believe without considering what others have to say. Finding the right balance between standing up for what is right, and maintaining the respect for others is not always easy. Such is the challenge always.
In some ways, it is this keeping the balance that can make it difficult sometimes to understand Jesus. There are clearly moments where he seems compassionate and merciful. There are other times when he seems demanding and tough. And, it is not that one is right and the other is not; it is that both are the way we are called to be. For too often, we want things to be either / or, when in reality they are both / and. Dominicans express this when they refer to careful distinction about what is really meant by something.
And so the practice we are called to have in our own lives is to always be waiting and watching for the presence of God. This requires prayer, reflection, time alone in silence, and a deep desire in our hearts to do this. It means setting aside the distractions that keep us far from wanting to follow the will of God. It means setting aside the noise that comes from technology, or turning off the television, or realizing that the stuff at work can wait another day, or that our appearance is not the most important think in our lives.
So, do the right. And know that when you do, God is right there with you.